How to quickly grab your dog in an emergency without scaring them, according to a trainer

Owner holding pug dog by the collar
(Image credit: Bread and Butter Productions/Getty Images)

Most dogs aren't a fan of being grabbed by the collar or harness quickly. Understandably, the quick movement can make them feel a little startled, resulting in them going in the opposite direction to you altogether.

Whilst this might be a perfectly normal reaction, there are some situations where you might need to grab them a little faster than you both might like. If your dog isn't comfortable with this, then it will make things trickier (and more dangerous if you can't stop them quickly enough in an emergency. 

The good news is that you can train your pooch to actually like it, so if a sudden problem ever arises, they'll be perfectly fine with the rash movement. All you need is the best dog treats to get started!

In a recent Instagram post, dog trainer Melissa Goodman shared her top training tip for helping your dog get used to it. She notes that's a useful skill for all dogs to learn - even if they don't seem too bothered by it. Here's how you can try it out yourself:

In the video, Melissa begins by lightly touching Kobe the dog's collar and gently moves it around (you can also do this with the best dog harness). Over time, she builds on the intensity, giving him a treat and praise each time.

She says: "I do this because if you are in a stressful situation, you may not be very gentle with them and and have to grab them fast."

Before you get started, it's important to note that it's a gradual process. You want your dog to feel comfortable, so it's best to work your way up to the bigger movements to ensure they're ready for it.

In one part of the video, Kobe puts his mouth on Melissa which is a sign that he doesn't like it. If your dog communicates this to you, Melissa recommends lowering the intensity, taking a break or coming back to it another time. If you're struggling to read your pooch, this feature on dog body language might help.

Melissa says: "When I did that the first time, Kobe turned and put his mouth on my arm. It wasn’t playful puppy biting, but it wasn’t aggressive either. This very specific type of mouthing response is away for a dog to say 'I don’t like that.' [...] If you don’t respect a dogs boundary like that, that is when a dog will feel they have to escalate and that’s when a more serious aggression issue can develop."

Practice this training tip gradually and gently, and if an emergency should ever happen, you'll both be well prepared.

Want to find out what causes reactivity in dogs? This feature reveals all and what you can do about it. Or to learn about high prey drive in dogs, this feature covers what it is and how you can manage it. 

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Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is a Staff Writer on PetsRader, covering news, features and buying guides. She has a wealth of experience looking after animals, having grown up with dogs, cats and horses all of her life. She’s particularly interested in pet happiness and behavior, which she loves to research in her spare time. You’ll often find her watching webinars on reactivity in dogs or researching cat body language. She loves going the extra mile for her cats Chilli and Nala (who also help out with testing the best products for our buying guides). 

Megan studied BA Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was editor of Smoke Radio’s online magazine. She also graduated from West Herts College with a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Journalism. Before joining the PetsRadar family last year, she worked on the editorial team at Harrods and has spent most of her career writing for specialized titles, like RunningShoesGuru, Licklist and Mr. After Party. 

Megan works alongside qualified vets and accredited trainers to ensure you get the best advice possible. She is passionate about finding accurate and helpful answers to your pet-related questions.